Taking Action on a New Strategic Plan

By Nancy Foster, President, National Renderers Association

Sometimes it can be challenging to look ahead when you are in the trenches putting out fires and tending to life’s demands. However, as Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.” And you may end up where you do not want to be, which is especially unwise in the competitive, ever-changing world of rendering. As business leaders, renderers know how vital it is to keep one eye looking ahead, planning for the future. The same is true for the National Renderers Association (NRA).

Last year, NRA’s leadership took a long-range look at the association and its future path to best serve its members, which includes over 95 percent of the rendering industry in the United States and Canada. NRA also has international renderer members and associate members, who provide important services and products to renderers as industry partners.

NRA developed a new 2020 Strategic Plan to meet the needs of the North American rendering industry, which includes integrated meat packers and poultry processors in addition to independent renderers. The industry is diverse yet all face many of the same challenges with government regulation, expanding markets here and abroad, and building support for the freedom to responsibly operate.

NRA committees have started to implement this new strategic plan after its approval by the NRA Board of Directors last fall. It is a five-year plan with traction to work toward new goals with new programs and also to execute well what should be continued.

To recap, NRA’s 2020 Strategic Plan envisions a world for rendering where “our global community (will) trust the unique social, environmental, and economic value that NRA members deliver.” That is what renderers want for their industry.

NRA’s new vision is “to deliver sustainable rendering solutions to our global community.” Renderers want to be understood as solution providers and NRA is working to help position them in this way. The association’s new mission is to “advocate for a sustainable food chain, public health, and the environment through the production and marketing of rendered products and services.”

Sustainability permeates all that renderers do since they are 100 percent recyclers and want to be recognized for this value by their customers, communities, and governments. The priorities to accomplish this new NRA mission are to:
• promote effective public policy, regulation, and technology;
• encourage responsible business practices;
• support free movement of rendered products in domestic and international markets; and
• improve stakeholder awareness and understanding of the value of rendering.

To begin executing the new 2020 Strategic Plan, the NRA board directed all association committees to closely coordinate and align work toward achieving NRA’s new vision and mission. Some committees have new priorities while others are continuing valuable programs.

With sustainability a major new emphasis in the strategic plan, NRA has created a Sustainability Committee, ably chaired by Dr. Ross Hamilton of Darling Ingredients Inc. This committee’s goal is to develop social, environmental, and economic metrics with which renderers can benchmark themselves. The committee is currently developing its plans.

Sustainability must be economically viable while socially responsible and environmentally supportable. This is the foundation of NRA’s sustainability program. Sustainability is critical for rendering suppliers, customers, and their brands. Even though it can mean different things to different companies, many customers are demanding to know the footprint of rendering operations with which they do business. As solution providers, the industry can help them understand how rendering’s sustainability reduces their overall footprint and makes them more attractive to their customers.

NRA intends to build a nationwide industry sustainability profile with member information and findings from research financed by the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation. This foundation is funded by renderers and their industry partners to engage researchers to enhance current and new uses of rendered products, improve processes used to make them, and generate technical data to answer industry challenges.

The strategic plan recognizes that communicating rendering’s widespread contributions to the environment, the feed chain, and consumers is vital to maximize the industry’s ability to operate freely in a responsible manner. To attract and retain new talent into rendering, millennials can be drawn to what rendering has to offer. Customers need to understand this value to continue driving demand for rendered products. In addition, regulators and legislators are increasingly making decisions based on their understanding – right or wrong – of how socially and environmentally responsible the rendering industry is. This is happening regarding food waste regulations on the West Coast. The new strategic plan directs NRA to increase communications outreach to educate these kinds of important audiences to firmly position rendering for the future.

NRA’s Communications Committee is developing data for renderers to provide to food service customers, such as restaurants and hospitals, to explain how used cooking oil is recycled into valuable new products, including biodiesel. With this new information, the food service establishment can tell its customers how it is sustainable and contributing to making the world a better place, both consumer values today.

Other communications projects underway include a Rendering 101 teaching module for universities to build awareness among students (and potential new hires), a social media toolkit for NRA members, and an updated North American rendering booklet describing the industry to potential buyers and government officials. NRA will also be adding to its infographics, blog, website, and social media activities.

To implement NRA’s new 2020 Strategic Plan, the Animal Protein Producers Industry (APPI) Committee is hosting a two-and-a-half-day training in Denver, Colorado, in June and an online curriculum to teach renderers how to comply with the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). APPI is putting the finishing touches on a new teaching video with training materials for rendering managers to use so employees understand what they need to do to ensure their company is in compliance. These FSMA trainings are available to NRA members.

FSMA goes into effect this fall for large companies, next year for medium-sized companies, and the following year for small ones. Renderers must comply or face significant penalties from the Food and Drug Administration and customer rejection.

NRA’s Convention Planning Committee is adding “hotel sustainability” as a criterion for selecting future NRA meeting venues. At last fall’s annual convention, the committee hosted a fundraiser to support a community cause, raising $40,000 for the Canine Companions for Independence Wounded Veterans Initiative. NRA’s other committees are continuing their work to advance the association’s new mission and there is no lack of challenges. These include the International Market Development Committee, Legislative Committee, Environmental Committee, Feed Regulation Committee, Biofuels Committee, and Audit and Budget Committee.

NRA’s 2020 Strategic Plan has sound traction and support among the North American rendering industry. The association staff also “lives and breathes” it daily. I hope you will join your rendering colleagues and customers to embrace this common vision and path forward for a strong industry in the future.

June 2016 RENDER | back